Culture and Health - The videos of the lectures


Institutional Communication Service

12 January 2022

The university course Culture and Health, an innovative programme in collaboration with the IBSA Foundation for Scientific Research and the Cultural Division of the City of Lugano dedicated to the students of the Faculty of Biomedical Sciences and open to the public, was held at the Università della Svizzera italiana from October to December 2021.

The course featured talks between renowned personalities from the world of culture, such as poets, artists and architects, and representatives of the scientific world, such as oncologists, neuroscientists and surgeons, on the link between culture and health. During the seven lectures, the speakers discussed how art and cultural participation affect the physical and mental well-being of the individual, presenting new perspectives on the privileged relationship between these two areas.

The course provided interpretative keys on the impact of culture on health through experiences and best practices conducted in the medical-scientific field. More than 700 people attended the lectures, and 22 different speakers were involved.

The videos of the seven complete lessons are available here.


Programme of the course:

18 October
Art, Culture, Health and Wellness

The role of art and cultural participation on health: an overview.

Speaker: Enzo Grossi, culture and health expert and author of "Cultura e salute, la partecipazione culturale come strumento per un nuovo welfare";
Discussion with: Graziano Martignoni, psychiatrist, and Emiliano Albanese, public health.


25 October
Inhabiting Space 
Salutogenic theory on the role of architecture and the built environment's impact on health and well-being.

Speaker: Alan Dilani, salutogenic designer;
Discussion with: Mario Botta, architect, and Pietro Majno-Hurst, surgeon.


8 November
A Dive into the Landscape
The Impacts of the Natural Environment on Health. Projects, methods, results and case studies.

Speaker: Giuseppina Spano, psychologist;
Discussion with: Romolo Nottaris, mountaineer, and Giovanni Pedrazzini, cardiologist.


15 November
The pursuit of happiness 
Mind-body: how culture can contribute to preventing and treating stress-related pathologies.

Speaker: Antonella Delle Fave, physician-psychologist;
Discussion with: Daniele Finzi Pasca, director, and Greta Guarda, Molecular Biologist.


22 November
Mirror, mirror on the wall.
Neurons and empathy - Art, beauty and empathy: the role of mirror neurons.

Speaker: Vittorio Gallese, neuroscientist;
Discussion with: Michelangelo Pistoletto, artist, and Alain Kaelin, neurologist.  


29 November
In Praise of Beauty
Neuroaesthetics: the neurobiological basis of beauty.

Speaker: Luca Ticini, cognitive neuroscientist;
Discussion with: Fabio Pusterla, poet, and Andrea Alimonti, oncologist.


6 December
Music, Soul and Body

The role of music as a tool for healing and promoting health.

Speaker: Alfredo Raglio, music therapy expert;
Discussion with: Markus Poschner, conductor, and Silke Gillessen Sommer, oncologist.


The "Culture and Health" Project

The idea of the course stems from the need to provide both USI medical students and the interested public with a new perspective on the privileged relationship between cultural participation and health status. For some years now, this relationship has become a proper discipline of study, called "Culture and Health", and the interest in the subject has grown steadily in recent years. The publication of some epidemiological studies - the result of long-term observations and representative samples of the general population - has shown how intense cultural participation is associated with benefits on several fronts: it goes from an improvement in overall well-being up to an effective extension of life expectancy, as well as the decrease in the effects of severe diseases on the patient even in chronic degenerative conditions such as Alzheimer's or cancer. The cultural activity, therefore, assumes a precise value, also proving an essential tool for prevention, ensuring greater longevity and mitigating the adverse effects of chronic stress on the general state of health, in line with the new WHO interpretation of socially determined health. In light of what has been described, the course aims to provide the keys to interpreting the role played by culture in individual and social well-being, a topic not always explored with adequate scientific tools and with a multidisciplinary approach. It will also allow addressing an accurate review of experiences and best practices conducted in this sense in the scientific and medical field, associated with the vision of some leading figures in the national and international cultural world who have focused on how the "arts and culture can also mean care".


Please find attached the flyer and booklet about this course (Italian).

More information can be found also at